People tell me I’ll be a great mom. I’ve taken care of kids since I was really just a kid myself, working in pre-schools, summer camps, and as a full-time nanny. I have worked with all kinds of kids, kids with disabilities and health problems, twins, infants, teenagers, shy kids, smart kids, goths, the whole nine yards. You could say that I am one of the most “prepared” people for being a parent you’ll ever meet, and yes, I’m pretty proud to be the #1 speed dial for childcare advice in my little circle of friends. But, I head into my life as a mom with as much caution as the next person, because if my years of experience have taught me anything, it’s that there’s always something unexpected. I mean, let’s get real here, I didn’t even get pregnant on purpose. This baby’s already kind of sneaky.
One thing I’m scared of is that I’m single, and even though the baby’s father and I are on good terms, my baby will primarily live with me. I may have been a nanny, teacher, and counselor for years, but at the end of the day… I got to give those kids back to somebody else! Seriously! I got to go home, live my single lady adult life, take a shower, eat whatever I wanted, drink a bottle of wine, go on a date, see a movie, stay out late, sleep in, whatever… and I got weekends off! Now I will be around my kid pretty much 24/7 and I’m all like, “But how?”
There’s also the issue that my daughter probably won’t look like me. I’m white, and her father is Filipino American (He’s also a handsome, smart teacher). I can already tell from those high-tech 4D ultrasounds that she has his nose and lips. It’s not a surprise to me that she’ll look more like him than me, and my fingers are crossed that she’ll share some genes with his gorgeous sisters, but it’s a completely different experience to my own.
I have been told all my life how much me and my mom look alike. It’s lucky I think my mom is the most beautiful woman on the planet I guess, but my daughter and I will probably not share that bond of “looking alike,” which is something I never really expected, and the pressure I feel to express just how much I love her, how much she belongs to me, how much she is a wanted and cherished part of this family is big. I plan on us wearing matching outfits sometimes… don’t judge me.
I was shopping with my mother for Christmas ornaments and we were looking at the “Baby’s First Christmas” ones when an alarm bell went off in my head. I looked at my mom and said, “No white babies!” in a panic. My mom looked confused. Then I explained myself. I don’t want her to have all these dolls, toys, Christmas ornaments, and stuff with just a bunch of white babies on them. I want her to be able to find herself in her books and toys and not feel excluded by her own stuff. I remembered the cool crayon box from one pre-school I worked in that had all different skin tone colors in it for drawing people, not just “peach” for the white kids, and made a mental note to look for things like that, that would help alleviate some of the whiteness everywhere. If nothing else, I at least plan to cut down on the blondes.
I am caught between desperately wanting to protect her from being excluded or harmed or treated unfairly because she isn’t white and doesn’t look like me, and knowing that I cannot protect her forever. I know that at some point in her life, somebody is going to make some kind of comment and it’ll be confusing and hard for her. I know I will be asked if she’s “mine,” if I adopted her, if I’m her babysitter, etc… I know kids at school will ask her “what” she is. I know. I’ve been around the block. I have a diverse group of friends. I’m not the slightest bit naive about it. I was a nanny for two South Asian kids for three years, and I’ve seen it all.
I’ve been through it in my love life too. I have dated a handful of guys who didn’t look like me and it was shocking and disappointing how often I was asked completely inappropriate questions about who I was dating, like, did I hate white men? I don’t. I have dated white men. Every dude in my family is white. Some of my best friends are white! I’ve even been asked point blank, as the first question out of somebody’s mouth, as if it’s anybody’s business, how big my Asian/ Puerto Rican/ Middle Eastern boyfriend’s penis was, more than once. I have an enormous boatload of anxiety about my daughter dealing with this kind of crap.
Being pregnant has hands down been the most vulnerable time of my life. Today I offered to go to the grocery store for my mom, who isn’t feeling so great, but she pointed out that one of the things we really needed was bottled water and that at 31 weeks pregnant, I probably couldn’t and shouldn’t try to lift the big case of it that we need. I almost cried. I felt so helpless. I’m so dependent on others and what if I just can’t do this? (For those of you judging our bottled water, I hear you, but tap water in this town tastes like garbage. Feel free to take it up with our city council).
My point is, I may be a pro at changing a diaper, I may have an expert knowledge of what kind of baby products are useless, and I may get along with kids pretty well, but none of that saves me from the unexpected, from the overwhelming feelings and changes of becoming a parent, from complications, from going through labor, or sleep-deprivation, or people being mean to us, or from her turning 18 some day and going to college! Dear God!
So what is the silver lining to all this? There has to be one. I mean, nobody could possibly have all these thoughts in their head without some relief. I do! I promise. I know my experience is common. For every blog out there with the headline, “I’m single and having an interracial baby and I can’t lift water!” is another woman’s “I have diabetes and I got pregnant and it’s terrifying” or “I have an ideal life with a wonderful husband and tons of money and I’m still totally freaked out.”
For one thing, I have been overwhelmed by the support and love directed my way. It turns out, people really love babies. Both me and the father of the baby have incredibly kind friends and family who are completely blowing my mind with their support and generosity. My love language is gifts and they’ve been pouring in. Most importantly, at the end of all my trepidation and tantrums and crying is the payoff… I get a baby! Have I mentioned how freaking excited I am to get a baby and it’s actually mine? I mean, you guys, come on! I’m gonna have a cute as hell little tiny baby girl! So I’ll end by saying something I said to a friend the other day.
She just had a baby, and is finding the experience tedious, exhausting, and frustrating, but also feels like she has to try and “enjoy it” and “be in the moment,” like she’s been told, because it “goes so fast.” I said, “just feel both.” Don’t try to be so positive or perfect. Just feel both things. Feel all the love and joy and stuff, but also acknowledge that it’s kind of horrible. That’s all you can do. So I’m trying to take my own advice. I am going to be a mom and it’s going to be horrible and wonderful and I’m prepared and I’m not, and it is what it is and that is just fine.